Optioned OF Michael Brantley to Columbus (AAA)
Michael Brantley made the club because of Russell Branyan's back injury, so I suppose it's no surprise that he'd be the one to go down when Branyan would be healthy. This was supposed to be a difficult decision, though; by this time, Brantley would have become a fixture in the lineup, causing havoc on the basepaths after getting on by walk or by line drive single. That vision of the future, though, was not the reality of the present (36 PA, .156/.229/.188), and so Brantley will return to the minors, a move that will serve him (not sitting on the bench in Cleveland), as well as the Indians (holding down Brantley's service time).
Reinstated 1B Russell Branyan from the 15-Day Disabled List (back)
The addition of Branyan to the roster adds yet another player that Manny Acta has to carefully handle. Matt LaPorta, who still isn't fully recovered from two offseason surgeries, is now going to have to play the outfield, though he'll still get some starts at first since Manny Acta is going to ease Branyan back into the lineup. Austin Kearns seems the biggest winner from this roster move, since LaPorta's going to be in the outfield only when necessary.
When he's in the lineup, Branyan should provide the Indians some power from a corner spot, but it also makes the lineup even more left-handed. Manny Acta has attempted to break up the string of left-handers by placing Jhonny Peralta in the cleanup spot, but Peralta's slumping, and managers will have no problem leaving a LOOGY in the game to face him. LaPorta's not faring much better (.216/.275/.270). Here again Austin Kearns has an opportunity to gain playing time; in his few at-bats this season, he's hit well, and might be the next right-hander to be used as an obstacle to late-inning left-handed specialists. Kearns hasn't historically hit southpaws much differently than right-handers, but there aren't many options to choose from right now. Well, there's this guy, but his timetable isn't based on ability to hit major-league pitching; otherwise, he would have been the Opening Day starter.